Ash Barty gives tennis lessons to small school in the red centre

Ash Barty gives tennis lessons to small school in the red centre

Tennis

The Mutitjulu School, in the small Indigenous community of the Anangu people within Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, has less than 40 students enrolled. Over the weekend, 16 of its students were treated to tennis lessons from the best female tennis player in the world, when Ash Barty arrived to conduct a number of tennis clinics as part of Tennis Australia’s Racquets and Red Dust program.

Barty, who made history last month when she became the first Australian woman to win the Australian Open in 44 years, spent Saturday in Uluru Kata Tjuta National Park teaching kids from Mutitjulu School, many whom had never picked up a tennis racquet. 

“This has been today an experience … for me as it is for the kids,” the 25-year old told ABC.

“I think providing that opportunity is so exciting for me.” 

“It’s really hard to put into words, just because it’s a feeling,” Barty told PerthNow. 

“When you actually go to Uluru for the first time like I did; it was just an incredible experience for me to understand how much of a spiritual connection Uluru has for so many communities.”

“But also as a child, as an Aboriginal girl growing up, it’s the heartbeat of our nation … being able to experience that first-hand is something I always wanted to do.”

Ash Barty in Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park



The program, which is supported by Jacana Energy, was created last year to provide sustainable opportunities through tennis for Indigenous youth across the Territory, and to contribute to Indigenous health and education outcomes.

Anzac Leidig, Tennis NT’s Indigenous Programs Leader, spoke last year about the importance of having tennis in remote communities.

“This program is not just about forehands and backhands, we’re really trying to foster a connection with the sport and generate a greater outcome for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people,” he said.

“For me, hearing that Indigenous youth are coming to school to make sure they don’t miss out on tennis is amazing.”

One 10-year-old  Mutitjulu student, Elizabeth France, told ABC that she was “really excited to meet Ash Barty.” 

“She said she liked my tennis racquet,” France said. “[Barty] told me to slow down when I hit balls a bit because sometimes I hit them really, really hard.”

“When I when I’m 15, I’m going to go on tour for the Australian Open, and I’m going to play the other cups too.”

Barty, who is Tennis Australia’s First Nations ambassador, is currently only three weeks from matching 18-time grand slam singles champion Chris Evert for the fourth-longest streak of consecutive weeks at the No.1 spot. 

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